When a badger has chosen to set up camp near or in your garden, it can be quite annoying. Badgers don’t usually cause huge amounts of damage (and rarely cause permanent scars to your landscaping) but they can be somewhat frightening to encounter and might cause frustration with their habitual digging routines.
If you’ve had enough of your badger neighbours, there are some steps you can take to deter them.
Evidence of badgers in your garden
If you’re unsure whether your problems are being caused by badgers or another furry creature of the night, you should look out for these signs:
- Dug up spots in your lawn or flower beds – this is evidence of the badger looking for grubs that live in the soil.
- Partly eaten fruits, vegetables or bulbs – if the badger can’t find any grubs, it’ll move onto the next available food source.
- Broken fences – shockingly, badgers are strong enough to break fences, which they will do on rare occasions to gain access to gardens (if they can’t climb over it).
How badgers benefit the environment
It may not seem like it, but badgers are very beneficial to the environment in more than one way. So, why do they matter[i]?
- As badgers go about their habitual practices, they disperse seeds. This helps plants to spread and grow.
- Badgers build brilliant tunnels and tunnel systems that are used by other species. Rabbits, otters, foxes and many other species benefit from badger tunnels.
Uncontrolled badger culling can have a knock on effect on other species that live closely to badgers. On a large scale, this disruption can affect the ecosystem and the natural food chain.
The law on badgers
Badgers are protected species in the UK, so if they already have an established sett or den within your garden, there is nothing you can do. There are other laws in place to protect badgers from coming to harm. According to UK law, you cannot[ii]:
- Dig for a badger
- Mistreat a badger
- Allow or provoke a dog to enter a badger sett or den
- Disturb a badger sett
- Block access to or destroy a badger sett
- Intentionally take, injure or kill a badger
If there is an established sett in your garden and it is causing issues, you need to contact a local wildlife rescue centre for advice on what to do next.
Planned badger culling does take place in the UK. This is to prevent the spread of bovine TB amongst cattle, which badgers have been known to spread. However, mass badger cull licenses should be stopped after 2022 as the government swings focus to vaccinating cattle and badgers against the disease[i].
Ways to deter badgers
Although you can’t do much to ‘get rid’ of badgers, you are allowed to deter them if you aren’t putting them at risk of any harm.
1) Learn to live with them
Badgers are becoming more of a ‘nuisance’ because their natural habitats are being built on and destroyed so they are migrating further into urban spaces in the search for food and shelter. It is possible that they will move on by themselves and create a sett elsewhere. The easiest thing to do is to be patient and wait for them to move. You can take steps to re-enforce parts of your garden that you don’t want to be disturbed as long as this doesn’t cause harm to the badgers.
They’re quite magnificent to watch from a distance if you set up an outdoor wooden bench in a strategic location to keep a look out for them at night.
2) Fix and re-enforce your fence
If a badger is entering your garden from elsewhere during the night to hunt for food, improving your fence or wall may be enough to keep them out. Badgers can dig well, so make sure you go at least 0.5m below the soil.
Some landowners and farmers opt for electric fences to keep badgers at bay, but even a sheet of metal can help to re-enforce your fencing. If you’re trying to keep them out of your home garden, don’t spend too much money on a permanent solution as they’re unlikely to be around forever.
3) Remove food sources
This isn’t always possible but getting rid of potential food sources will make the badgers show much less interest in your garden. If they can’t find food, there will be no point in them digging.
- Maintain your lawn – badgers natural food source includes larvae and grubs that live in the soil. Making conditions worse for the grubs and/or getting rid of them will minimise the badger’s food source. Make sure your lawn is well aerated, drains properly and is moss free.
- Pick up spilt bird seed – badgers love bird seed and nuts, so will come running at night if they catch wind of a free feast. Clean up any bird seed spills before nightfall and keep feeders well away from objects that badgers could climb.
- Spot control – if you’ve noticed the badgers are only digging for food in specific areas, these should be your areas of focus. Firmly secure chicken wire against these patches of lawn to stop them digging.
4) Use Natural repellents
You can’t use repellents which will harm the badger, but there are some (pretty strange) substances that can be used to keep badgers well away.
- Scotch Bonnet Chilli Peppers – scatter crushed scotch bonnet chilli peppers around the garden, especially near entrances. Badgers will sense that the substance is irritating to their noses and will turn away.
- Citronella Oil – badgers really dislike the smell of citronella. Applying it to the bottom of fences and around entrances may be enough to keep them away (unless they are particularly hungry).
- Male Urine – not the most desirable repellent to use, but it does work. Spraying male urine round the garden effectively ‘marks’ it as being another males territory. Badgers, generally, will respect this and move on[ii].
- Motion Sensor Floodlights – investing in good security lights that are triggered by motion will help to repel badgers as well as being good for your overall home security.
Using chemical repellents is not an option when it comes to deterring badgers.
Encourage wildlife in your garden
If you can, you should make steps to encourage wildlife into your garden. Creating safe pockets of habitat for displaced wildlife will help to keep their species afloat.
Read more about encouraging wildlife into your garden here.
BBC, 2021. Badger cull: New licences ‘to be banned after 2022’. [Online]
Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-55840829
[Accessed March 2021].
Fantastic Team, 2018. Just How to Put a STOP to Badgers Digging Up the Lawn of Your Dreams?. [Online]
Available at: https://blog.fantasticservices.com/how-to-stop-badgers-digging-up-lawn-of-your-dreams-control-and-deterrents/
[Accessed March 2021].
Reader’s letters, 2018. Disastrous impact on ecosystem if we continue culling badgers. [Online]
Available at: https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/voices/readers-letters/2018/06/14/disastrous-impact-on-ecosystem-if-we-continue-culling-badgers/
[Accessed March 2021].
RSPCA, n.d. Badgers and the law. [Online]
Available at: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/animals/badgers/law
[Accessed March 2021].
Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches – a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.